Ontario Hostelry Institute recognizes up-and-comers in hospitality industry
BY RACHELLE COOPER
Before Jody Chrobak's picture appeared in the Globe and Mail last month with other recipients of the Ontario Hostelry Institute's “Top 30 Under 30” award, the graduating B.Comm. student was planning to continue working as a server in a local chain restaurant. Within a week of receiving the award, she got three job offers.
Chrobak, who will graduate next month from the School of Hospitality and Tourism Management (HTM), decided to accept a position at Oliver Bonacini Restaurants in Toronto, a company that operates several haute cuisine restaurants, including Canoe and Auberge du Pommier.
“I couldn't let an opportunity like that slide,” she says. “I'm so honoured that they would even consider tracking me down to offer me a job.”
Take a look at Chrobak's contributions to U of G and the community over the past year, and it's easy to understand why she received an industry award even though she's technically not launching her career until this summer.
As president of the HTM Student Association for 2005/2006, she and her team launched a bookstore in the school, started a monthly newsletter, certified more than 5,000 high school students to legally serve alcohol in Ontario, and raised money for breast cancer, juvenile diabetes and the Starlight Starbright Children's Foundation.
Being active in student leadership roles and holding down three jobs to support herself through five years of university clearly didn't affect Chrobak's academic performance. She graduated at the top of her class.
“It's not enough to say that she's a leader among leaders,” says Prof. Stephen Lynch, who nominated Chrobak for the award. “Her world is large. She balances her life with a blend of intellectual, physical and spiritual activities and regularly sets time aside for each. She gives back in a very humble fashion.”
Says Chrobak: “Winning this award is the biggest compliment I've ever received.”
A “Top 30 Under 30” award also went to third-year hotel and food administration co-op student Iris Lam, who began a 12-month work placement at Oliver Bonacini last May. She quickly proved herself and was chosen to help open the first Oliver Bonacini Restaurant outside Toronto at the Westin Hotel in Collingwood. Lam was hand-picked by the company's vice-president, Bruce McAdams, to manage in-room dining at the new restaurant. Her performance as a member of the opening team prompted McAdams to nominate her for the award.
Four HTM graduates — Karalyn Ferdinands, Anson Kwok, Darcy MacDonell and Quentin Lewonas — were also among the “Top 30 Under 30” honoured at an awards dinner April 27 at the Four Seasons Hotel in Toronto.
“The University of Guelph prepares men and women for the industry and equips them with the skill set and competencies to move on up the management and leadership ladder,” says Charles Grieco, chair and president of the Ontario Hostelry Institute.
Ferdinands began a co-op placement at Canyon Creek Sherway in 2000 and, since graduating in 2003, has become general manager there. Kwok, another 2003 graduate, is chief steward at the Fairmont Royal York Hotel and was named the Royal York's 2005 employee of the year.
MacDonell, a 2002 graduate, was general manager at SirCorp's Brasserie Restaurant in Toronto when he was nominated for the award and is now general manager of OB Café at Blue in Collingwood.
Lewonas, who earned his B.Comm. in 2001 and is now completing an MBA through U of G's Faculty of Management, has opened the four newest Canyon Creek Chophouse restaurants in the greater Toronto area.
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